The law has been on the books since 2010, but it has never been applied. However, starting April 20, 2018, the immigration service – Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGME – will begin applying a fine to foreigners who overstay their time in Costa Rica.

Photo from the Migracion Costa Rica Facebook page.

The fine is US$100 for every month of their overstay, that is ‘illegal stay’ in the country. The fine is retroactive to March 2010.

The fine is payable at the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR), Puntos Tucan (BCR), the immigration website and the Correos de Costa Rica (Post Office).

To know (officially( if you are subject to the fine, the immigration service, starting April 13, 2018, will have a page to consult the amount to be paid due to irregular stay in the country.

For those who are unable or unwilling to pay the fine, Costa Rica can bar the person for up three times their ‘irregular’ (illegal) stay.

For simplicity sake, say you have overstayed your stay by 9 months, the fine would be US$900 or be barred from re-entering the country for 18 months. If you are one of those that has been irregular in the country, that is without ever leaving, since 2010, you can add up the months. Best is to leave by April 19, 2018.

The Ley General de Migración y Extranjería Nº 8764 went into force on March 1, 2010. Article 33, paragraph 3 deals with fines and the bar for non-payment. Click here for the text of the law (in Spanish).

ARTÍCULO 33, 3:

Las personas extranjeras tendrán la obligación de egresar del país cuando venza el plazo de permanencia autorizado por la autoridad migratoria, salvo que medie la solicitud de un cambio de categoría o una prórroga otorgada por dicha autoridad migratoria. Toda estancia irregular en territorio costarricense hará que las personas extranjeras deban cancelar una multa migratoria equivalente a cien dólares moneda de los Estados Unido de América (US$100,00), por cada mes de estancia irregular en el país o, en su defecto, se les prohibirá el ingreso por un plazo equivalente al triple del tiempo de su per
manencia irregular.

Most tourists entering Costa Rica can stay legally up to 90 days. The operative word is ‘up to’. There have been cases of brought to the Q where authorized stays have been for 7 and 14 days.

The 90 days applies to visitors from Canada, the United States, and Europe for the most part. Stays for nationals of other countries is 30 days. See here list of countries and stays.

The number of days is clearly stated on the passport within the stamp placed by the immigration official at the port of entry.

From Migracion Costa Rica Facebook page

Who pays? The fine is applicable to tourists, visitors in transit, flight crews, persons with “temporary residence” or “special category” that has expired. The fine also applies to persons who have been denied and notified their application for residency and have not filed an appeal.

Who does not pay? The fine does not apply to permanent residents, even if their residency has expired; minors (under the of 18); seniors with disabilities, cross-border workers; and, tourists within their stay period.

How to avoid getting fined? To avoid having to pay a fine, the immigration service suggests leaving on time (within your legal stay period) or obtain an extension.

On April 13, 2018, the DGME will have on their website a page where one can check if they have overstayed their time in the country and the applicable fine. Click here or the image above.

The immigration police in action. Photos from the Migracion Costa Rica Facebook page.